HCI blog

Thursday, December 09, 2004

The HCI link with WAP

So far the blogs have covered the interesting history behind WAP, the technology behind WAP. But let us not forget what this blog is about, and how WAP has conformed to provide excellent HCI or appauling HCI.

WAP, its like the second generation teletext or the baby Internet. So how does this baby Internet bring HCI to our life compared to its older brother "The Internet". Well, firstly WAP was initially designed for mobile devices, the key word there is MOBILE. This allows anyone to access information anywhere providing their phone is WAP enabled.

Secondly WAP is direct information, Internet tools like google just don't cut it anymore, if you want something specific you might have to visit a few sites before you get past the information you didn't want. WAP due to its small size compared to the Internet is currently hosting just information based service, although this is changing quite rapidly.

So lets run a test. Just for the record, I am about to run this test while writing this blog so we can compare and contrast, using broadband and GPRS.

The Scenario, I live in Redditch and I want to get to University, so train is the best option I reckon. Here is the exact methodolgy I will run through to get the information I want using WAP:
- Connecting to Orange via GPRS
- Home Page appears with my name on screen :S
- Select travel conviently placed near the top

- 1 second later it asks how I am planning on travelling the following options appear:
Road, Trains, Flights, Tube, Directions (walking, driving)

- Selected Trains and within a second another menu
Timetables and live info, London Travel, Travel Deals

- Selected the Timetables and live info and ooo whats this, its remember some routes I did about a year back :S

-I Selected to look up a timetable anyway to make it fair, and a link says departure "Where I am now" and top of the List Redditch, select that.

- Type in the Destination ("University") and amazing its found it

- I now get asked if I want the next train, depart after a specific time, or arrive before a certain time, and a few more options, but i selected the next trains and before you can say Swiss Family Robinson, its on screen with the number of hops needed (none in this case)

So i just a quick review, it took 1 minute in all to find the information I needed (less if i choose a previous route), it was a case of Java 2 Route Finder project eat your heart out.

Now the Internet:

- Loading browser with Google.co.uk (milliseconds)
- Type in train travel UK
- returns  
Results 1 - 10 of about 3,160,000 for train travel. (0.29 seconds) fast!!
- Select the top one which is national rail
- Typed in information (not so user friendly as i can't find the next train and have to give a time)
- Done that anyway and now am waiting for Active Server Page to load, ok thats done
- Yup it finds the same as the WAP

So the Internet has less steps, but is it as good as WAP, well to make it fair I thought I would try one last medium, the granny (not just in age, but in speed as well) Teletext. 3.2.1.GO!! ok index page..................(having a bottle of lucozade so energy levels aren't being drained) ok now I have to wait because there are loads of pages to visit, o great I think I am on the wrong channel, needs to be Channel 1, need to start again. In fact I am going to abort this mission simply because by now I would have missed the next train or lose my temper at teletext.

The results, in last place Teletext, needs no explaination why. Second place is the Internet and in first place is WAP. So why did WAP win over the Internet. Well time wise both were equally as quick, even though WAP did need more steps it was nice to know that you have options available to you, walking directions is something I never heard of. Later on I did do a test to for walking directions and using "Where I am now" the pinpoint was excellent. But I think the main difference that won it over was the HCI behind it all, WAP is wireless, its mobile and its those little things, like remebering my name, my previous journeys that make life easier and WAP more pleasant to use. Its got that edge over the Internet, because the Internet is not easily accessible from anywhere and in most cases requires something larger than a mobile phone to access it. So bottom line, if you want information quick and direct and anywhere then WAP's your technology otherwise the Internet is still king of the information highway.

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